Windows 8 releasing in April 2012

Since Windows 8 was first said to arrive in Summer 2012, it is quite possible that an April 2012 release date is possible. Many partners are said to be waiting to offer customers Windows 8 tablets, as the software is optimised for touch capable devices.

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Windows 8 will feature Hyper-V guest OS machine virtualization-

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 will feature the first-rate, enterprise-echelon Hyper-V machine virtualization hypervisor. This will mean that Windows 8 users will be able to run almost every other operating system inside a window, including Windows 7 and XP, SUSE and Red Hat Linux, and more (including Ubuntu) with a little hacking. Prior to Windows 8, Hyper-V was only available in Windows Server 2008 or as a standalone OS.

Now, at its most basic, this will just mean that you won’t have to download the free (and excellent) VirtualBox software if you want to virtualize a guest operating system — a very useful feature for power users and developers who want to try out different build and runtime environments, but not exactly a killer feature for consumers. Unless… what if Hyper-V comes with a copy of Windows 8 (or 7) guest OS pre-installed?

Just imagine this for a moment: you boot up into normal, running-as-root/administrator Windows 8. Once Windows 8 finishes loading, Hyper-V then boots up a virtualized instance of Windows 8 — so you have Windows 8, and another completely separate copy of Windows 8 running in a window. You can then do anything you like with the virtualized OS without affecting the main, host OS. At its most basic, you could use the in-a-window OS to safely surf lewd and/or malware-ridden websites — but you could also use it to open untrusted files, play around with system files, and so on. Virtualization is, in essence, the best security sandbox money can buy.

Furthermore, bundling a virtual machine manager with Windows 8 means that Microsoft can relax it’s truly heroic backwards-compatibility efforts. This isn’t to say that Windows 8 won’t run legacy, Windows XP-era software, but if it happens to be slightly glitchy… then just install XP under Hyper-V. Microsoft could also make this “compatibility layer” transparent: imagine opening an incompatible Windows XP program, but instead of being told it won’t run, Windows 8 automatically opens a virtualized instance of Windows XP, and then the program.

In Windows 8, the desktop will be “just another app”-

Windows 8 will ship with a touch-first Metro UI interface and the standard Windows interface that can be found on some 90% of the world’s computers.

Speaking on the Building Windows 8 blog, the president of Windows and Windows Live, Steven Sinofsky, has detailed how the tiled Metro interface and the standard Windows Desktop (with a capital D) will peacefully coincide. From the sound of it, you will have complete control over which interface you use — and you can use both at once, if you like. Tablets (and devices missing a keyboard and mouse) will probably boot up in the Metro UI, but it isn’t clear what the default for desktop and laptop PCs will be. It wouldn’t be surprising if Metro is the default for PCs simply because it Microsoft will want to show it off.

From an engineering and performance standpoint, Sinofsky is almost at pains to point out that Windows Desktop will become “just another app” — in other words, the will just be another tile that you can launch with the jab of a finger. Curiously (and a little worryingly), Sinofsky doesn’t say the same about Metro. It would be nice to assume that there’ll be an easy-to-find toggle that forces a computer to boot up to the standard Windows Desktop, with Metro becoming “just another app” that you can open with a double click — but who knows, maybe Metro will be the default and Desktop will be… just another app.

The advantage of this split is that tablets and other touch-centric devices won’t have valuable RAM and CPU cycles stolen by the Windows Desktop running in the background — and vice versa, if you’re allowed to boot up directly into Windows Desktop. It will also enable the creation of embedded Metro-only devices where the Desktop is completely absent, though with 8 and 16GB fast becoming the norm for non-volatile memory, min/maxing the operating system’s footprint is unlikely to be an issue.

So there we have it: Windows 8 will continue to provide unerring and unswerving support for software that was developed for its 30-year-old forebears — but at the same time the Metro-inspired tile-based UI will usher in an exciting new platform powered by IE10 and populated by apps built out of HTML and JavaScript.

Windows 8 Explorer will support native mounting of ISO and VHD-

Microsoft’s new operating system will natively mount ISO disc images. On the slightly more enterprisesque side of the equation, Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) files will also be supported by Windows 8 in much the same way as ISOs. Both new features will be smoothly integrated into Windows 8 Explorer’s ribbon menu, and mounting an ISO or VHD is as simple as double clicking the file.

If you’ve ever had to play with disc images of any kind, you’ll appreciate just how awesome native ISO and VHD support will be. If, like the hairy denizens of the ExtremeTech bunker, you absolutely abhor the banality of physically locating and slotting discs into your computer, this change will revolutionize how you use Windows. You can make backups of your games and movies, store the files on your hard disk, and then just double click the file when you want to play them. Mounting ISOs will appear in My Computer as optical drives, and unmounting them is as simple as clicking Eject in the ribbon.

If you already have a huge archive of backed up photos and family videos, you can now put them back onto your computer — and if you want a bit of redundancy (and rightly so), just keep a mirror of your important ISOs on a network-attached storage device.

Microsoft heads “To the Cloud!” to destroy Windows 8 piracy-

Microsoft has battled Windows piracy for years, and to this point has only really succeeded in delaying ambitious crackers. Eventually, a .DLL exploit is found and Windows Genuine Advantage fades sheepishly into the background. WGA might resurface later on with renewed vigor and more intrusive alerts (and even black out your wallpaper), but someone invariably finds a workaround. Even latching on to other Microsoft products like Security Essentials, Internet Explorer, or Windows Media Player doesn’t seem to do much more than annoy.

With the latest Windows 8 build (8064) that has been delivered to Intel, it’s clear that the company is taking strides to make sure that its upcoming OS isn’t quit so easy to pirate. For starters, the generic volume license keys that were so easily exploited during the early days of Windows 7 leaks will no longer be an option for pirates. Product keys also won’t be shipped in the prodkey.txt file included in the build packages. Instead, installers will need to retrieve a unique key from a Microsoft web page.

There’s also a good possibility that the recently-surfaced fast booting patent could come into play as well. If Microsoft does indeed have designs on using a remote server to push OS code to systems at boot time (even if it’s cached locally for extended periods), that code would be a very clever place to embed activation-related programming. Even if a crack was discovered, it would be neatly undone during a subsequent start-up sequence — similar to the way Microsoft’s now-idle Windows Steady State could turn back the clock an entire Windows installation after rebooting.

A lot of talk about Microsoft needing to match Apple’s aggressively low OS upgrade pricing has been bandied about, and one way Microsoft could help keep sticker prices down is by delivering a bulletproof anti-piracy system. Keeping the ratio of paid Windows licenses versus pirated ones would allow Redmond to remove any price padding against counterfeits it builds in.



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